Since it was built in 1899, the Grand Hotel Lund has been a landmark in the famous academic capital of Sweden: Lund, hometown of BrainLit. The vision of manager Maria Paulsson, whose family has curated the prestigious hotel for almost 40 years, is to restore the building to its condition over a century ago, while picking a few, choice modern innovations to stay current. Among these, BioCentric Lighting, which has recently been installed in the three conference rooms offered to customers.
– I first saw BioCentric Lighting at the Hotel Skansen in the coastal city of Båstad and found it very interesting. Then I looked closer at it in the BrainLit office, situated in the top modern building The Spark here in Lund. It gave a peculiar impression, from outside the building it appeared almost phosphorescent, but inside of it the bright lights were so pleasant. Then I considered how it would feel in the Grand Hotel’s antiquated environment, Maria Paulsson tells us.
New technology and preserving tradition
Installing the cutting-edge technology of BioCentric Lighting with its combination of panel lights and spotlights in the historical premises proved an unusual challenge for the management of Grand Hotel Lund and a team from BrainLit. The auditorium named Piraten, ”The Pirate”, after local author Frithiof Nilsson Piraten, was furnished in the 1980:s and thus not very problematic. But the combined conference room and ballroom Lukas, with its stucco and chandeliers, was quite another matter.
– Something was lacking: the equipment in the meeting rooms themselves. The lighting is crucial, but nobody will reflect on how important it actually is.
– Our interior architecht, Eva Nyström, and the BrainLit team had a meeting where they demonstrated the luminaires and made her think that yes, we could make this work. Keeping the historical feel of the hotel is so important to us. In the last half decade, the meeting industry has been attempting to invent creative meeting rooms in order to create think tanks. Our customers are engineers in stylish suits, we’re not going to place them in beanbag chairs, but to treat both them and our premises with respect, Maria Paulsson says.
Grand Hotel Lund is situated 100 meters from the third largest central station in Sweden. After over a century, it’s obvious that the surroundings, the building itself and the atmosphere are beloved by customers. And the current cuisine is famous with customers from all of South Sweden and Denmark gathering in the dining room. But despite the settings, conferences lasting one or more full days are a challenge for the delegates.
Keeping conference guests alert
– Something was lacking: the equipment in the meeting rooms themselves. The lighting is crucial, but nobody will reflect on how important it actually is. You enter the room and notice a pleasant fragrance and nice surroundings – and then the conference itself starts. After a while, if the light is insufficient, your eyes will tire and you will start to lose concentration. You may start to blame everything from a heavy luncheon to the stuffing of your chair – but not the light! Maria Paulsson explains.
– The simplicity of the operation once BioCentric Lighting was installed most certainly was a deciding factor.
The quality of the lighting and its impact of the conference delegates was however not the only deciding factor. The simplicity in operating the system also weighed heavily when the decision was made to installing BioCentric Lighting. Despite the heritage of the Grand Hotel itself, the organization is rather slim, with no 24/7 access to tech support.
– It had to be plug and play. Hotel people are not very skilled when it comes to IT, our purpose is to provide service for others. Standing around, pressing buttons at random and waiting for the real support to arrive is horribly stressful for all of us. So the simplicity of the operation once BioCentric Lighting was installed most certainly was a deciding factor. That and BrainLit being a local Lund company, I’m not certain we would have made this installation without a local partner, Maria Paulsson says.
The project lasted 18 months from idea to reality, and was picking up speed in the beginning of 2020 and was planned for the Swedish Spring break in late February and early March, when few conferences were planned. Despite the corona pandemic basically reducing the number of conferences and meetings to zero, the installation went ahead as scheduled.
Hybrid meeting spaces
– At the time, the investment felt like a burden because nobody knows yet if the conference business will ever again be what it used to. But doing nothing was never an option. Now only 49 people are allowed to gather, so we have turned the Piraten auditorium into a hybrid meeting place. I am a firm believer in hybrid meetings with 49 people in the audience and others participating online, and the perfect light from BrainLit is an important factor for the quality of the livestream, says Maria Paulsson.
The Grand Hotel may not be finished with its BioCentric Lighting installations yet. Now Maria Paulsson has her eyes set on the reception area and the kitchen.
– Our staff work from early morning to late in the evening. Imagine working in that environment with this lighting! she concludes.